Tribute to Communist Dictator's Daughter Stirs Outrage in Bulgaria
The "scientific conference" dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the birth of Lyudmila Zhivkova, daughter of Communist dictator, Todor Zhivkov, stirred a scandal and outrage in Bulgaria.
Such events and attempts to rehabilitate the country's Communist past, organized by private organizations, are not uncommon in Bulgaria, but many found scandalous the fact that this time the country's oldest university, the State Sofia University, is part of the forum.
This flared online forums and social networks, including calls for the resignation of University President, Prof. Ivan Ilchev, who is known as a strong critic of the current Cabinet, but has agreed on hosting the event and of being part of the program.
The latter includes a number of well-known poets, artists, historians, writers and other intellectuals, along with foreign researchers.
The right-wing Blue Coalition issued a declaration, which they read in the Parliament, demanding the annulment of the conference and voicing outrage from Ilchev's "attempts to use the Sofia University for Communist and Socialist propaganda."
"We firmly oppose the forgery of the past and the rehabilitation of leaders of the Bulgarian Communist Party," the declaration reads.
The Blue Coalition further asks Education Minister, Sergey Ignatov, to request an explanation from Ilchev along with publically stating his opinion on the conference and from the Parliament to pass a law providing sanctions for everyone and every organization that make attempts to rehabilitate the Communist regime and its repressions.
The right wing say with their silence of the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, have become an accomplice in such rehabilitation, which has been launched by Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov's praises of Zhivkov. They also strees that the silence of the ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms, DPS, is unexplainable and unforgivable since Bulgarian Muslims were victimized by the regime.
"The commemoration at Sofia University is illegal and anti-European. In 2000, the Parliament passed a law criminalizing the Communist regime in Bulgaria, while in 2009, EP declared criminal all totalitarian regimes in the 20th century," the Blues point out.
"Disgrace! This is similar to a German university organizing a conference in veneration of some Nazi greatness or his offspring," Bulgarian Ambassador to the UN, Stefan Tafrov, wrote on Facebook Thursday.
"I never thought such brutal mockery of truth can happen at Sofia University, which is a symbol of freedom," wrote on his official website Svetoslav Malinov, a Blue Coalition MEP.
The leader of one of the two Blue Coalition parties, Democrats for Strong Bulgaria, DSB, and former Prime Minister, Ivan Kostov, called on "all modern, freedom-loving Bulgarians to voice their indignation from the attempts to revive the country's Communist past."
Ilchev, who is currently abroad, denied being the organizer of the event. He said everyone is free to attend and voice their opinion on Zhivkova, even the most negative one.
The initiative to hold on October 19 a conference, titled "The Cultural Opening of Bulgaria to the World," belongs to the History Department of the University.
In September, an exhibit under the same name was opened in Sofia, focusing on Zhivkova's life and work.
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